college admission essays

EMOTIONAL CHANGES DURING YOUNG ADULTHOOD

The emotional and mental changes that take place in young adulthood are probably going to be more noticeable than the physical ones. Decisions about careers, living arrangements, and relationships become important. Our educational needs will also change.

One of the biggest concerns we have as young adults is our living arrangements. We usually remain living at home with our parents until we are financially able to have our own apartment or house.

Being a sexual adult while still living at home can have some drawbacks. When we enter adulthood and begin having intimate relationships with others, it may be difficult to express our sexuality when we know our parents are in the house!

Families have to get together and establish ground rules about privacy at home. Every member of the family can express what will allow her or him to be comfortable. Families may want to consider the risks young people take to have sex outside the home.

Sex in parked cars and other public places can lead to dangerous or humiliating situations. If being sexual at home is against the rules, then other solutions can be found. The partner’s home may be more appropriate. If neither home is an option, finding our own place might become necessary.

Living alone may offer great potential for personal fulfillment. We may have greater opportunities to travel, entertain, relax, pursue hobbies, and explore our own individualities. Maintaining independence and learning how to be a responsible person are additional benefits. The privacy of living alone enables us to be sexually active, if we choose, without the concerns of being in our parents’ home. But living alone—whether by choice or necessity—can also be difficult and lonely.

If living alone is not appealing or practical, sharing a home with a roommate may be the solution. People of the same or other gender can share housing. Roommates can provide companionship and share the costs of the home. They should establish ground rules regarding privacy and houseguests from the start.

As infants, children, and adolescents, we have emotional needs that must be met. We need affection, caring, and education. As adults, we still have these needs. These emotional needs are met through various people in our lives. We still receive and need love and affection from family. Our friends are also very important to us. But as adults, we find ourselves making new friends and forming new relationships that are unconnected to our families or the friendships of our childhood.

Not all of us make new friends when we become adults. Some young adults choose to avoid intimate relationships. They may fear taking risks with their emotions because of some past hurt, or they may be concerned with other changing parts of their lives, such as their careers or their changing relationship with their families.

Forming relationships, however, usually becomes a central part of our lives. Developing relationships, especially intimate ones, can be a challenge. It happens when we become comfortable enough to risk revealing our true identities and our most personal thoughts and feelings to someone else. In order for us to become intimate with someone else, we need to understand our own identities.

Intimacy is a closeness between two people. Intimacy can be an emotional, spiritual, social, or intellectual closeness. It usually involves both sharing and caring. Being free to communicate is essential in an intimate relationship. We can be intimate with family, friends, or sex partners, but sex does not have to play a role in intimacy.

Intimate friendships can be extremely rewarding. Yet forming them can be sometimes difficult. On the one hand, it seems so simple: The major reason we make new friends is that they are similar to us in some way, and they like us. We feel emotionally rewarded when we are with them, so we want to be with them. We also want them to feel as good as we do, so we return the emotional reward to them—we “reciprocate,” then they reciprocate, then we reciprocate, and so on.

On the other hand, reciprocity can have its downside. Even when both people want to reciprocate, they may fall short of one another’s expectations. One of them may be ill. Times may be hard. One person may not be as mature as the other. There are lots of reasons.

We also learn from experience that our judgment isn’t always good about the people with whom we choose to reciprocate. We can make mistakes about how much we think someone else cares for us. We can also overlook what it may cost us to reciprocate to the “wrong” person—especially if we have low self-esteem. In other words, we can get hurt.

As we learn more about relationships, we become more careful. Sometimes we become too careful. The better we understand ourselves, however, the more likely it is that we can have safe and secure reciprocal relationships. It can be the work of a lifetime to learn enough about ourselves to be able to manage rewarding intimate relationships with other people. Many women and men have found that the investment is worthwhile.

We have a strong desire to be liked and held in good esteem by others. This is a powerful and motivating force that has been with us since childhood and adolescence. Social approval is very important to us in adulthood as well. Having our worth reaffirmed by others really matters to us. We depend on others to help satisfy our needs. Their approval helps us feel confident that these needs will be met. It builds our self-esteem.

Not everyone has his or her sense of worth affirmed. The unaffirmed will find it difficult to feel good about themselves or think that others feel good about them. They are likely to have low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem do not expect others to like them, and they have a hard time accepting affection when it is offered. They are also likely to make poor judgments about forming reciprocal relationships.

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